Rio Ferdinand, the Manchester United legend, would hardly be surprised if Alejandro Garnacho raised concerns with Erik ten Hag should the Argentine find himself benched in favor of Antony once Marcus Rashford recovers from his injury.
Antony has been under intense scrutiny ever since Ten Hag acquired him from Ajax for a substantial £86 million transfer fee.
United’s underwhelming performances this season have only intensified the pressure on both Antony and Ten Hag to reverse their fortunes.
However, the Brazilian star, who appeared disheartened on the United bench during their recent 3-0 defeat to Manchester City, failed to impress once more as Ten Hag’s team narrowly secured a 1-0 victory against Fulham last Saturday.
Ten Hag was forced to reshuffle his starting lineup after Rashford sustained an injury during Friday’s training session, leading to Garnacho stepping into the void left by the English international.
It remains uncertain whether Rashford will recover in time to feature in United’s critical Champions League clash against Copenhagen on Wednesday evening.
Antony’s performance against Fulham left Rio Ferdinand questioning the Brazilian’s place in the squad moving forward.
Ten Hag has persistently stood by the 23-year-old despite his subpar form and lack of productivity, but Ferdinand believes that Garnacho would be well justified in questioning the United manager if he were to be dropped in favor of Antony.
“I can’t say how much longer Antony has because you could sense the fans’ frustration, not to mention hear it,” Ferdinand remarked.
“He has played in 11 matches this season and has yet to register a single goal or assist. For an attacking player, that’s simply not good enough—it’s a harsh reality.
“On the other side, there’s a 35-year-old winger, and if you didn’t know their ages or their career trajectories and just saw today’s performance, you would unquestionably select Willian.
Antony needs significant improvement because when Rashford returns, if Garnacho finds himself on the bench while Antony starts ahead of him, he’d undoubtedly be left bewildered, thinking, ‘How is this guy ahead of me?’
“I would be doing the same, and there must be a competitive spirit within the squad because if you’re relegating someone to the bench, that player needs to trust that the one ahead of him will deliver the goods, which Antony is failing to do. There’s no room for argument here.”
Ferdinand is not the lone former United player dismayed by Antony’s displays. Andy Cole revealed this week that he couldn’t envision playing alongside Antony as a teammate.
“He would drive me absolutely mad,” Cole stated on Sky Sports. “He’s a one-sided player; we all know he heavily favors his left foot. As a center-forward, when you make a run to the near post, you already know you won’t receive the ball.
He tends to cut back, and you’re uncertain when he’ll deliver it into the box. He doesn’t score enough goals in my book, and he fails to create sufficient opportunities for his teammates. So, when you evaluate his contributions, you have to ask, ‘What are you actually providing?’ That’s the expectation from him.”